Verstappen helps in Red Bull recruitment to help keep Hamilton edge

Max Verstappen takes practice lap on the new Zandvoort Circuit

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Max Verstappen advocated for Red Bull to sign World’s Fastest Gamer winner Rudy van Buren as their new simulator and development driver as he looks to maintain his current dominance over Lewis Hamilton. The Dutchman has a strong relationship with the veteran sim-racer having competed alongside each other in some sim-racing competitions for successful e-sports outfit, Team Redline. 

Van Buren will now work alongside Verstappen on a permanent basis as the reigning world champion looks to enforce his edge over Hamilton. The Dutchman currently sits 93 points clear at the top of the World Driver’s Championship having won nine of the 14 races this season. The Briton sits 138 points behind his great rival after Mercedes struggled to adapt to the new regulations for 2022. 

However, Verstappen is acutely aware that the seven-time world champion will not be held back for long and has hence acted to try and maintain Red Bull’s dominance by encouraging to sign Van Buren. The 29-time race winner’s countryman has been involved within Formula One before, working as McLaren’s sim racer following his success in the World’s Fastest Gamer competition. 

While Van Buren concedes that it is unlikely he would be in the job if he had a poor relationship with Verstappen, he was keen to stress that the main reason for the role was his ability. 

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“I’m sure if he [Verstappen] was against it then it would not have happened,” Van Buren admitted when asked by The Race. “And I’m sure it didn’t hurt being inside the sim racing world together with him and knowing each other.

“But if my relationship was good and my work in the sim was not then I would not get the job. I think it’s the whole package coming together.”

It is thought that Van Buren is particularly adept at replicating the 24-year-old’s driving style. Despite his dominance, Verstappen has not been completely happy with the RB18 and it is hoped that his friend will be able to help bring the design more in line with his strengths. 

The Dutchman is excited to start getting involved with Red Bull and sees it as a big step up in his career. He will be largely based at their Milton Keynes base, fulfilling the role that was largely performed by Williams driver Alexander Albon last year. 

“It’s a step up in trust and in general there is more responsibility, more days and I’ll be more involved in the big picture,” Van Buren said. “My role is still a small piece of the puzzle, it’s the guys on track and the engineers doing all the magic work.

“With the sim getting more and more appreciation inside of Formula One teams, with all the developments, it has become more of an important thing inside the team.

“It’s one of the moments in life when you can say, ‘I’m proud of this one’.”

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